Food choices leading into competition should be higher in carbohydrates, contain some protein and low in fat to ensure easy digestion. Remember to drink water at regular intervals to ensure you go into competition well hydrated.
Aim to have your last main meal at least 2 hours prior to the start of competition so the food has time to digest and is accessible to fuel your body. E.g. cereal & low fat milk, fruit and yoghurt, toast with vegemite or honey and a piece of fruit, or pikelets/pancakes with syrup/jam or honey. If competition starts early this may mean getting up earlier so the meal has time to digest. Stick to familiar foods you usually eat around training so you know they will be well tolerated. This is not the time to experiment with new foods!
In the hour leading up to competition, continue to take regular sips of water, or alternate between water and sports drinks if preparing for a high intensity or long duration event.
If competition has a long duration, or requires regular high intensity performance or heats, the body is unable to store enough fuel for the body to access for ongoing optimal performance. Consumption of small, regular carb snacks throughout the competition can help to refuel the body and top up energy levels between heats or efforts without feeling too full. Examples include yoghurt, pretzels, honey or jam sandwiches or a banana. If food is not well tolerated, sports drinks, gels or bars may be useful. Continue to consume regular, small sips of fluid throughout the competition.
A meal or snack high in protein and carbs is recommended after competition finishes to commence the recovery process. Examples include chicken and salad sandwich or wrap, fruit smoothie, grilled lean protein, vegetables and rice/sweet potato or fruit and nuts/yoghurt.
Written by AMBER RACO DIETITIAN